Kitchen 919 to replace The Orangery

Kelly Norrell
Features columnist

Kitchen 919, a restaurant that celebrates Knoxville’s southern foothills cuisine, will soon launch at the 5412 Kingston Pike building once occupied by The Orangery, which closed last June.

Knoxville chef Deron Little, proprietor, said the name of the new restaurant reflects everyone’s favorite part of home and the ZIP code of the neighborhood. The proprietor of Seasons Innovative Bar and Grill, Little and his son, Drake Little, will run Kitchen 919.

Kitchen 919 partner Drake Little; Tim Hill of Hatcher-Hill Properties, purchaser of the building; and proprietor Deron Little at the iconic stairway of the old Orangery.
Kitchen 919 partner Drake Little; Tim Hill of Hatcher-Hill Properties, purchaser of the building; and proprietor Deron Little at the iconic stairway of the old Orangery.

“Our vision is to create a restaurant that celebrates Knoxville’s unique southern foothills cuisine and the local products that are available farm to table. Through classic culinary preparation and current artistic plating techniques, the guests will enjoy the cuisine with their taste buds, their eyes and their hearts,” he said.

Signature features will include local food bought from 10 to 20 area farms, a menu that is adaptable to use foods that are fresh and in season, a craft cocktail bar serving favorites like Old Fashioned, Manhattans and Aviators using premium ingredients, and a Great Gatsby ambience with soft leather chairs and marble coffee tables. Little said the restaurant would be mid-range in price. It is expected to open by September.

Progressive city development firm has Bearden roots

When Hatcher-Hill Properties LLC became the driving force behind key revitalization projects in downtown Knoxville, it was soaring from Bearden roots.

And Bearden continues to grow and develop under Hatcher-Hill projects also, spearheaded by founders Mike Hatcher and Tim Hill.

A recent example was the company’s decision to purchase the Orangery when that respected restaurant closed its doors last June. Hatcher-Hill is now gutting and renovating the building at 5412 Kingston Pike with plans to open a new restaurant, Kitchen 919, in September.

Hatcher-Hill’s purchase of the Orangery building will help bring a new premium restaurant to Bearden.   Photos by Kelly Norrell
Hatcher-Hill’s purchase of the Orangery building will help bring a new premium restaurant to Bearden. Photos by Kelly Norrell

“We have a concept headed by Deron Little, who is proprietor of Seasons Innovative Bar and Grill in Turkey Creek,” Hill said. The 20,000-square-foot restaurant complex will include the 11,000-square-foot restaurant and event space plus three additional tenants.

And downtown, Hatcher-Hill will soon begin construction on a Gay Street lot that has been vacant since a fire in 1974. A 12-story building housing 88 condominium units, a restaurant, and two floors of parking will go up on the sunken lot next to Mast General on Gay Street. Knoxville City Council has approved the project for a tax increment-financing package.

When founders Hatcher and Hill launched the development company, which is still located on Weisgarber Road, in 2004, they quickly formed their signature approach.

“We recognized the value of preservation. If you are in a good market and you enhance your property, you typically will be successful leasing those properties. Most important, apply some imaginative efforts when you are trying to re-tenant,” said Hill.

“When we look at a project, we first want to preserve, then enhance, and then activate, to re-tenant the property with the best possible use. This seems to have worked well for us.”

Key downtown examples of Hatcher-Hill Properties’ purchases are the S&W Cafeteria building, now housing the Douglas J. Aveda school, Potbelly Sandwiches and Coolato Gelato, the JC Penney building, now occupied by Maple Hall Bowling and, nearby, the Babalu restaurant and 22 condominiums.

In fact, every block of Gay Street has the imprint of Hatcher-Hill projects, as well as much of the Old City, Market Square and the area near Knox Area Rescue Ministries.

The development company’s formula for revitalization is a natural fit in Bearden, where energy and confidence seem to bubble up from the ground.

A current project underway is construction of a two-story, 3,300-square-foot building at 5209 Kingston Pike. West Knoxville Glass Company, formerly there, was destroyed by a storm in November of 2016. The new building will likely house a retail or service-type business like an architectural firm, Hill said.

Other properties that Hatcher-Hill purchased and re-tenanted in Bearden include the El Charro Building on Kingston Pike, now housing Tandur Indian Kitchen; Bearden Hill’s Sequoyah Place, now housing Summit Medical, Mortgage Investors Group and Status Doughnut Shop; the former CVS building on Kingston Pike that now houses Pet Supermarket and the building that houses John Berry’s women’s clothing, Package Manager and Oak Springs Wealth Management.

“One thing we noticed about Bearden from the start was proximity and convenience. Those seemed so obvious but many stretches seemed underutilized. We just felt like it would resurge. That is exactly what happened,” Hill said.

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